Prayer, peace and poverty
Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby met today to recommit themselves to the struggle against modern slavery and human trafficking. The two global leaders have continually spoken out to challenge this crime against humanity, and have acted decisively to support the foundation of the new faith-based global freedom network which has offices at the Vatican.
In an audience with the Archbishop this morning, the Pope departed from his official text and spoke in English. “Don’t forget the ‘three Ps’,” he said. “Prayer, peace and poverty. We must walk together.” He stressed the need to “stand together” in combating human trafficking – while divisions between Christians remained a scandal. “I thank God that, as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together, with perseverance and determination, in opposing this grave evil,” the Pope said.
Today the Pope and the Archbishop will monitor progress and discuss their project's ambitious aims, which include persuading 50 multi-national companies to render their supply chains free of slavery by 2020. They also want 162 countries publicly to endorse the campaign and get the G20 to adopt an anti-slavery initiative.
It is the first time since the Church of England was created at the time of the Reformation that the two churches have co-operated in a practical campaign to tackle a world problem.
The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion have a powerful presence in many of the countries where trafficking and slavery is most common. The leading authority in Sunni Islam, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyib, is participating in the Global Freedom Network and discussions have begun with Hindu leaders too.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that the trafficking and enslavement of people generates profits around the world of an estimated $150bn (£88.4bn) a year - almost two-thirds of it through sexual exploitation. It says almost 30 million people are currently enslaved.